By Linda White
Don’t be surprised if you see any of the talented Lane School Invention Convention participants in a future episode of Shark Tank. The “Buzzin’ Bike Lock”, “Reflectable Spectacles”, the “Workout Windmill” or any of the 170 creative ideas presented might easily temp the Shark Tank judges to invest.
Greeting families at the door on June 16, Lane Assistant Principal Keith Kinney explained, “All three grades of Lane students have been introduced to the Engineering is Elementary (EiE) program developed by the Boston Museum of Science and followed the engineering design process. Today, Grade 5 students will showcase their creativity and knowledge of the concepts they have studied.”
Click the photos below to see larger images – Images (c) Linda White, 2015
Student engineers and their projects filled the cafeteria and gymnasium. Many students collaborated, working together as design teams of two or three participants. The noise and excitement levels were high as students demonstrated their inventions, described their project development, the obstacles they had to overcome, trial and error scenarios when their first attempts did not meet their expectations, and the audience they hoped to reach with their invention.
Stacey Williams, Grade 5 teacher commented “The vision we had for the kids, and the overall goal, was for them to use the engineering and design process to imagine, create and design an invention that would help someone or make life easier. If students’ inventions were close to something that already exists, we asked them to think of a way they could improve on it to make it even better. We also wanted the students to trouble shoot, then reflect on their work so they could figure out what went well and what they might have changed.” In fact, many of the demonstrated projects involved devices and technology to assist an aging population and people with physical limitations, various unique ways to help students stay organized in the classroom and more environmentally friendly alternatives for daily living.
Each exhibit included a poster board with a goal, project description, problem to solve, design plan, projected audience, marketing plan and outcome. Presentations were Shark Tank quality. “Unlike a science fair” Lenore Zavalick explained, “all materials students used (minus the poster board) were purchased and brought in by them, but all work was done in school. If an invention required something major, like drilling or sawing, that was done outside of school. Use of electrical outlets was not permitted. Teachers were available to help guide, make suggestions, trouble shoot, and whatever the kids needed. We did not build anything for them or design their poster, but we did provide a template of how we wanted the poster board laid out so all kids’ were uniform. We are proud of the kids’ entrepreneurial skills! We wanted them to have an experience that was hands-on and meaningful, and of course memorable and fun, and we think they got just that.”
“… Leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today—especially in science, technology, engineering and math.” — President Barack Obama, September 16, 2010
Lane Principal Rob Ackerman reflected, “It’s all about thinking. EiE is an excellent inquiry-based STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) curriculum that teaches students thinking and reasoning skills. Lane teachers and students have embraced these goals and consequently our students are well prepared to further their learning at JGMS and beyond.”